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Cluck Grunt and Low Review

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Went last night with friends in hopes of some good bbq and a chance to catch up in a lively atmosphere. Can't say I'll be heading back any time soon.

Things started well - great smells, busy restaurant, fun music. As one of our group of four is from out of town we did have that time after sitting down where we were talking and not paying enough attention to the menu. Our server came over to ask if we were ready several times. I like we weren't forgotten, but it was several times within 10 minutes or so. Menu is short, but no sampling platter was on offer which I thought was a shame. We decided we would each order a different dish and share around to compensate. When we went to order though, we were then told that there was no cornbread or beans for side dishes, something that could have been mentioned in the numerous pre vists our server had made. When I asked if we might use a smaller salad as a side dish I was answered with a curt 'no'. Apparently they had been out all day and yet hadn't come up with a substitution or compromise. That left coleslaw, potato salad and dirty rice as sides. When I asked what the most popular dish was I got a shrug and 'pork ribs' response. There was no attempt to elaborate or offer me anything more to go by.
Just after we ordered, server came back to tell us there were beans after all and would we like him to bring two orders with the food. Of course we would.
Food came out almost instantly which was a little surprising and everything seemed warm, but not hot. Potatoes in the salad were practically crunchy, coleslaw was swimming in liquid. Beans were okay (but really, if they were out all day, where did they suddenly come from?) and dirty rice was, again, okay. Beef ribs were tender and fairly decent, the sweet and sticky pork ribs were not sticky enough though the meat was alright. Dry ribs are not my favourite, but the others found them to be 'pretty good'. Half chicken was tender but didn't distinguish itself much from Swiss Chalet - just a slightly different spice mix. I'm not deliberately being vague about flavours - they were just so devoid of obvious descriptors. The taste did not live up to the aromas.
Our server cleared dishes away from 3 of us while one was still eating. Came back a few minutes later to clear away side dishes while the 4th was still eating. It happened so fast that we couldn't stop him - the 4th said he should probably finish anyway, but it would have been nice for him to come to that conclusion without the food being whisked away.
Bill came on an American Express tray. Put out AmEx card to be told they don't take AmEx. Okaaaaay.
I realize the place is new, and perhaps they need to sort out their inventory needs, but there was no need to leave us uninformed of menu changes and no excuse to not offer a backup plan for sides or even an apology. All through the meal, the music volume was raised so that by the time we were finishing, we had to shout across a table of 4 to be heard over Johnny Cash.
I would have to hear there had been a massive improvement in taste and service before I ventured back.

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  1. The one constant I have heard about this restaurant is that they are out of cornbread. I wonder if they have it at all?

    2 Replies
    1. re: robgm

      Finally, an opportunity to real southern BBQ in TO and owners with good credentials. But so far, I haven't read one positive thing about this place. What a disappointment.

      However, I'm waiting two months and then I'll give it a try, but I'm not holding my breath. If the food is so-so right out of the gate, after all the work they've done pulling the concept and place together, it's not looking good.

      1. re: acd123

        I feel the exact same way acd. I went on day 2 and decided to give them a month or two. It is no home run that is for sure. But they are smart people and they can surely improve the product. I am still routing for them!!

    2. Seems we both had a similar experience.

      I wanted to write my own detailed review this morning, but you beat me to it. The food was horrific. The Kansas City Sweet and Sticky Pork ribs were so dry as to be inedible. Honestly, I wouldn't have fed them to my dog. They had clearly been cooked VERY early on and then before serving them to me, had them doused with bbq sauce to cover this up. The potato salad was crunchy, too heavy on the cumin, and appeared to be yesterday's batch in the freshness department. Ditto for the coleslaw. And like others have experienced, no cornbread. Wow, what a big surprise.

      I am so completely fed up with the "celebrity" chefs in this town. The so-called pedigreed chefs; Paul Boehmer and Marc Thuet? Give me a break. DO NOT TALK THE TALK IF YOU CAN'T WALK THE WALK.

      I think a bunch of lawyers decided to get together and play restaurant cause they were bored, with too much "money" on their hands if you catch my drift.

      And ok, I love the man in black, but nothing innovative in the music department there. How bout playing some Muddy Waters, R.L. Burnside, or Ry Cooder to go with the Q food.

      I give this place 2 months, tops.

      1. I ate there last night too. The potato salad was seriously crunchy and they were out of cornbread which we only learned after we tried to order it. I found the dry rub ribs to be very dry. I had two ribs that I couldn't pull (break?) apart - bad sign. I was scared that if I pulled harder one of them was going to go flying across the room. I live nearby and love bbq and really want to see this place succeed. I liked the friendly staff and room, but I think the kitchen needs to check the food before it goes out.

        3 Replies
        1. re: villars

          Reread my post, I apologize...seems I'm suffering from some rageahol.

          The service was indeed friendly, so no complaints at all there.

          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

            Even though I think it is too soon to be so harsh and predict 2 months life for this type of resto, I have to agree that the rage is justified. Believing that Paul Boehmer and Marc Thuet are truly involved in the kitchen and recipes, I expect the first weeks to be good-to-great, and then in a month, great-to-fantastic.

            I am hoping we can still get to fantastic in August!

          2. re: villars

            I tried this place last weekend and I wasn't impressed. The ribs were cold. Obviously they get thrown on when an order is placed but they didn't get thrown on for nearly long enough. Both rib types were totally forgettable - far inferior to Phils in my opinion (and I'm not a big Phil's fan).

            Service was fine but way to many staff wandering around with nothing to do. I can't imagine the ribs getting better since I think they have fundamental problems that won't be solved with time and ironing out the kinks. I might try them again in a couple of months depending on what I hear on this board.

          3. I also am a neighbour of CGL and madly curious. I will wait before going in though the smells are tempting...but I don't understand why cornbread should be such a challenge...I am wondering if it is possible they don't have a working oven/stove onsite. The lack of cornbread (needs an oven), the "crunchy" potato salad (caused by microwaving instead of stovetop boiling of potatoes) and the suddeness and unpredictable appearance of beans all suggest this arrival-from-somplace-offsite approach. At the prices they are charging, this is serious food prep "cheating".

            5 Replies
            1. re: LJS

              Excellent theory. Was especially struck by the fact that there's a Dominion across the street and yet they couldn't make cornbread - your theory would cover that off.....
              And re: the whole 'being new' thing. By all means I understand that you need to get into a rhythm and see how things unfold when you are a new restaurant. But there's no reason that attentive, helpful service that acknowledges its hopefully temporary shortcomings wasn't on offer. There are many times I have overlooked weaknesses in food due to good service and given the place another try. I just couldn't help but feel they were getting the easy stuff wrong.

              1. re: LJS

                i'm starting to find this place ridiculous and i haven't even visited yet...

                after over 3 months of constructing this place could they not have an oven! i'd laugh if they were doing baked beans and cornbread at thuet.

                so c'mon everyone.... tell me how the smoke is! no one's mentioned it and that's rather suspect. if it can compete with what's coming off of my balcony then kudos... mine do however make my condo reek of smoke from just leaving a bowl of congealed juices out.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  No one's mentioned smoke because there is no discernable smoke flavor. At least not in the pork ribs I had. And cornbread? I haven't read one post where someone actually had it. Cluck, Grunt and Low = Smoke, Mirrors and Amateurs.

                  Can't emphasize enough: Avoid, avoid, avoid.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    Princess,

                    Here's why there is no discernable smoke flavour [from their site]:

                    "Hint: its a blend of domestic fruit woods with an occasional hardwood accent"

                    They state this with pride! They are using cheap and relatively flavourless woods for beef & pork. Likely apple and maybe some cherry and "occasionally" maple.

                    What you are using on your balcony is likely good quality woods like oak, hickory, mesquite and the like.

                    Wish I could have some of your smoked meat ;)


                    Chow!
                    HL.

                    1. re: HarryLloyd

                      Harry, with respect to PSP who's probably a fine smoker, blending woods is an art form in itself. You can weave all manner of layers in. Even lighter woods have their place. However, if you can't smell smoke coming from CG&L they I'd wager they ain't usin' any.

                2. I too am disappointed by CGL after the months of hype leading up to it. I went last weekend with a friend and our experience was very much similar to everyone's reports (no cornbread, dry pork ribs, crunchy potato salad).

                  One thing that no one has mentioned is the baked beans. They seemed quite firm to me, and when I mentioned it to one of the servers, he said that they were fresh beans and assured me they were properly cooked. I'm used to the texture of canned baked beans which are very tender. Does anyone know if "authentic" baked beans are supposed to be tender or firm?

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: gnuf

                    It's hard to respond to this post without resort to Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles, and the immortal line delivered by former rodeo star Slim Pickens. But let me do so. (Note to self, why do so many discussions evoke images of Frasier and Niles, and the underlying desire to swack both with a cricket bat).

                    The cookedness of the beans is best judged by the atmospheric experience upon exit.

                    1. re: gnuf

                      I had the beans at CGL too. They were definitely undercooked. They should not be that hard and they are not that way in Chicago, Kansas, Memphis or Mississippi.

                      Besides, they were too firm to be completely enjoyable.

                      1. re: deelicious

                        Beans are hard to pin down because so many people have differing opinions. However from my experience good beans are cooked to the point when you have them in your mouth and your tongue is able to "squish" the bean on the roof of your mouth with some resistance. If the beans do not offer resistance and lack a slight firmness, then they are overdone.

                        1. re: The Boss

                          agreed. most of the beans were hard - not at all squishy.

                          1. re: deelicious

                            le sigh. I was hoping to hear better things of CG & L...

                            Guess I'll just have to keep cookin' my own beans n' bread.

                            1. re: EPIcureanTO

                              Went back tonight (a month too soon). Hard beans, hard potato salad but they finally had the cornbread - if only it was heated. I didnt like the coldish dry nature of it. Worse was that my beef ribs arrived cold - I mean fat congealed cold! The waitress was very apologetic. My ribs were heated and re-served. Fatty, bland and completely unmemorable. My friends had pulled pork which was perfect.

                              1. re: deelicious

                                So I just found out-and as don't see it mentioned here- that one of the owners is from the Spoke Club, he wanted to be "busy"- sounds like he's too busy to take note of how bad the food is. ( I believe the article was in the recent issue of the post-which I just recycled..)

                                ALSO- the ribs are done by/at Thuet & finished at CGL

                                1. re: EPIcureanTO

                                  Yes, the smoker/oven question is now officially resolved per the North Toronto Post's current interview with management. This place doesn't even cook on site. It seems that the food is cooked/smoked/baked/whatevered at Atelier Thuet and reheated before serving. It's a food delivered from a commissary operation. It isn't even a real restaurant, and this setup would explain the types of problems people are reporting. Their employees would need less cooking skill than the line staff at a fast food place. They claim to have convection ovens, though a microwave would probably do the job as well.

                                  1. re: embee

                                    Well, this place has definitely earned a pass. Phil's remains the de facto winner in the GTA.

                                    1. re: mrbozo

                                      Sad, but true...heading back to Phil's...sigh...

                                      1. re: LJS

                                        I thought Thuet had balls - but now he has really insulted the people of Toronto. Give me a break. He can have his crunchy beans, cold ribs and tasteless crap.

                                    2. re: embee

                                      LOL WHAT A JOKE!

                                      With that much handling, the meat just dries out!

                                    3. re: EPIcureanTO

                                      Bohemer hasn't been employed at the Spoke for some time now... at least 6 months or more. This restaurant concept came after him leaving the Spoke. Not to mention, he's no longer affiliated with C, G&L.

                          2. re: gnuf

                            I have to say I haven`t been and have no plans to either. Especially after reading all the reviews.
                            For the record cooked beans are tender.....they obviously rushed them and they were finshed being cooked.
                            there is a great BBQ place on College st

                          3. Despite the reviews I (in hope) ventured down last night - it was full all evening (on a Tuesday night). And a full menu was available too.
                            Service was pretty good too. Even asked how we liked it and listened to the response.
                            And some interesting menu items. Even had lamb ribs - a first for me (Cluck, Grunt, Low and Baa?).
                            Here's the good news.
                            Buster Keaton was featured on the video screen (Goes West - a rarity).
                            The salad was also passable - the bacon bits were nicely smoky.
                            And we finshed the Asian Style ribs (despite the significant amount of cartilage).
                            Didn't (wouldn't) finish the rest!
                            Beans were OK (but boring). Biscuit was very dry. Dirty Rice was inedible. Memphis dry rub ribs were the worst version I've had. Dried out meat and the heat existed but no layers of chile flavour. Lamb ribs were tough and fatty - although the sweet/mint sauce was pretty good.
                            Essentially the meat was all pretty bad - what is Thuet up to? I'd never buy from the Atelier based on this example.
                            Still not sure why I went - I guess I hoped there had been an improvement now that they've been open for a month.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: estufarian

                              Thanks for the review. Seems like they've added a few things to the menu, the lamb ribs were not there when I went during their opening week. I too did not enjoy my experience, I posted my review on the other thread a few weeks/month back. Funny thing is I'm a HUGE Thuet fan, unlike many boardies I've had fantastic experiences with Thuet's blind tasting menus as well as at Atelier. I'm hoping the place improves, but until I read some stellar reviews and hear positive "street talk" I have no reason to go out of my way to this place.

                            2. Absolutely fawning review in Eye magazine today:
                              http://www.eyeweekly.com/eye/issue/is...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mgs

                                That is one entertaining review, give that intern a gold star! Not that Eye has ever had any kind of credible food writing other than Konrad Ejbich's Drinks column.

                                I especially enjoyed the gushing about the authentic roadhouse decor. What's next, a review of Montana's Cookhouse? I wait with baited breath to see if the moose and deer really do talk to each other. And while I'm a fan of Billy Bragg, I'm pretty sure England's favourite punk/folk socialist is not authentic roadhouse.

                                I keep waiting for a decent word about this place, and still nothing. Unfortunately, this is not the review to convince me to go.

                                1. re: Pantz

                                  Pantz... very funny about Konrad Ejbich.... I always wondered how Eye landed him ( a completely rational, well-informed, unpretentious guy) as a drinks columnist, and yet suffered through and allowed to publish food columnists of risible knowledge. I recall one who dissed a place because, as a 'west-ender', she once had to venture east of Yonge. Nothing decent east of Yonge, she declared.

                                  And re: Billy Bragg... I suspect a good fry-up, not BBQ, would be his choice.

                              2. Given what seems like a disproportionately negative response to CGL, I figure it might be worthwhile to share my opinion, which was positive. Timing of our visit was prior to Boehmer's departure (and perhaps some menu changes - there weren't lamb ribs on the menu at the time, for instance). Service was friendly. Food was a little slow getting out but we weren't in a rush and timing issues should probably be expected early in a restaurant's lifetime. Tankhouse on tap is always welcome. On to the chow...

                                We shared the potato salad and beans sides. As was the case for others, corn bread was MIA and not a choice. Potato salad was excellent with a hint of cumin flavour, making it a little more interesting than the standard run of the mill version. The beans were more ordinary but no problems on the execution (i.e. ours weren't hard). For mains, I had the dry rub ribs which were excellent, while my wife had the beef ribs that she really enjoyed.

                                1. Are these reviews for CG&L on Bloor St, or is there another one??

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: aimeec

                                    bloor is the only one

                                  2. I had a similar experience, but Im not expecting first rate anything from a BBQ joint. In fact, I dont want that.. I want good food at TIMELY service. The rest is extras I dont care for when getting down and dirty with BBQ. CGL took care of that so, how was the food? Not terrible, but not great either. The ribs were scorched I would say, so they were bad. We also had the brisket, which was good. There was no corn bread (its my username!). The beans I didnt care since they were still quite firm and the flavouring was not strong at at all, but some may enjoy that style.

                                    THis place needs a kick in the ass to get it going.

                                    Im not sure where the food research was done but it

                                    The sauce needs work that is for sure, also.

                                    Im from Vancouver, and there is a BBQ place called Memphis BLues. The service is sometimes near rude, but the food keep everyone coming back. Nothing like that in TO? Im craving good BBQ.

                                    (I must say though, the MC brand Chipolte BBQ sauce is very good for a no name brand!)

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: OnDaGo

                                      Well we ventured out last night to Cluck Grunt and Low. Shouldn't it be Cluck, Grunt and Moo? I guess I am missing something about 'dem animals. First, I owe my husband a huge apology because I did not do my Chowhound due diligence. This is after constantly raving about the Chowhound website. We shared the combo platter and each had coleslaw. We didn't even eat half of the combo as it was so bad. At $40.00 we also found it to be skimpy. As an aside, in these times where we are concerned about super viruses, SARS, and safety of imported food from China, I think it is bad hygiene that you can stick your used knives in the various sauces (I noticed not everyone in the resto "pouring" the sauce) which stay on the table for the next patrons. How hard would it be to put out small servings of the sauce? My husbands ribs "benchmark" are the mexican ones at The Steak Pit, which I personallly think are better than Phils (he has never been to Phils), and the ones at CG and L didn't come even remotely close. We found the coleslaw almost rancid tasting (maybe too much cumin). We will never go back. We are very dissapointed because we love going down to Bloor and Spadina and think it is an awesome neighbourhood.

                                      The highlight of the evening was hitting Gregs ice cream for some wonderful roasted marshmallow and coffee toffee.

                                      1. re: sherry f

                                        Your husband's benchmark ribs are the so-called Mexican ones at Steak Pit?? And CGL was worse?? Houston, we have a problem...

                                        1. re: Fwagra

                                          Fwagra, I am not kidding and I have to agree with him on this one.

                                    2. I was excited to check it out since I live nearby, but was totally disappointed. The atmosphere was ok but the food was sub-mediocre.
                                      I had a pulled pork sandwich on a dried-out bun for $7.50 (the coleslaw in it tasted like the store-bought kind in a tub). It came with a small chunk of grilled corn on the cob. Very boring in presentation, and some of the food at other tables looked totally awful (the wings especially looked dried out).
                                      The biggest disappointment was my friend's order of macaroni and cheese... it was $10 on the menu, meaning we thought it would at least be a small meal size! Nope, it was TINY, so small we were all laughing. It was supposed to come with sausage, which turned out to be teeny chunks you could barely see. On our bill the mac&cheese showed up as $8, not sure if that was a mistake or because people had already complained...
                                      The server was fairly nice until we told her (very politely) that she could mention to the management that the portion seemed a bit small. then she got defensive and said "well, most people find it very filling" and "perhaps you have more of an appetite for cheese than the average person". Nice.
                                      Don't bother with this restaurant. Guess I'll have to wait for my trip to Texas to get some real barbeque.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Rpo

                                        The whole place is terribly disappointing!

                                      2. So Phil's remains the go-to place. Thankfully there is one.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: mrbozo

                                          Actually Phil's is a 'If you have to' place rather than a 'go to'.
                                          Even if it is the best in T.O. that's hardly a recommendation!

                                          1. re: mrbozo

                                            Barely, though...

                                            And the "Kansas City Smokehouse" signs that have been on the vacant place at Danforth & Ferrier since the beginning of the year have been replaced by signs that say "New home of Danforth Mr Greek...franchise inquiries invited".

                                          2. The review is somewhat accurate as my experience but I was a bit more positive. The dry ribs I had were pretty damn good and usually I am not impressed by dry ribs.. they had a distinct jerk taste to them that I enjoyed. I did get the sides I asked for, the cornbread (yum yum greasy with bacon !!) and the beans. But the others had to make second choices. The service was kinda pushy fast but friendly. Elbow to elbow seating was not fun as a child kept on snapping me in the back of the head. Not a grand experience but pretty good.

                                            I also have to say it was a much better choice than my forced upon visit to the new St. Louis chain version down the street after a 40 min wait for my second visit.

                                            1. Before reading this thread we almost went to Cluck Grunt and Low the other day. Good thing we decided to keep on walking west and ended up on the patio at the By the Way cafe and had a far better meal.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Jean Georges

                                                Good call- love that place- time to go there again & write a review-*searches* unless you'd like the honours to start one, jean Georges- i don't see a BTWC thread yet!

                                              2. I stopped in to CG&L last night because I happened to be in the neighbourhood and I'd heard good-to-mixed reviews from friends who'd gone. The service was fine -- friendly and diligent without being fake and hovering. I ordered the half-slab of Memphis Dry Ribs with cornbread and dirty rice as my sides.

                                                I didn't find them horrible, but I didn't find them outstanding either. The ribs weren't dried out, thankfully, but I didn't find a whole lot of flavour to them. The add-your-own sauce helped enormously (and yes, I poured -- didn't dig in with my knife!) As for the sides: the cornbread was tasty, though I personally like mine crispier -- nice touch with the fat pork though; the dirty rice was barely edible -- dry and mealy and no discernible flavour.

                                                For dessert, I tried the Ontario Peach & Strawberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream. It arrived in a ramekin, a small portion perched on an oversized platter elaborately (and needlessly) decorated with at least four separate garnishes -- concentric rings of chocolate syrup, miscellaneous-berry red coulis, powdered sugar AND cocoa powder. It was almost more garnish than cobbler...which was itself more undercooked short-pastry than fruit. If it wasn't for the passably tasty vanilla ice-cream, I would have found the pastry tough going. The fruit, what there was of it, was well prepared, not overstewed and with distinct chunks of fruit in a tangy sauce but there wasn't enough to stand up against the doughy pastry.

                                                The decor seemed to be trying too hard, and the plush island banquette in the centre of the room looked incongruous with the self-consciously rough-hewn barnboard theme. I did like the Sani-Hand station outside the restrooms, though. Total bill including a (small!) glass of iced tea, a little under $30 including tax but before tip.

                                                I might give it another chance, but I wouldn't call it a recommendation.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: SpupEh

                                                  I agree that the main problem with the ribs is their LACK OF FLAVOUR!

                                                  1. re: deelicious

                                                    I'm not ready to count them out entirely after my visit last night. There were some major problems:

                                                    --no flavour on coleslaw (all three in my party agreed that a mistake should have been made---or else they had no experience with slaw)

                                                    --the barbecue sauces on the table are either based on commercial ketchup or taste that way

                                                    --as mentioned above the ribs are not sufficiently trimmed of fat. To be honest, disgusting beast that I am, I actually enjoyed this a bit at first. The additional fat did bring with it additional meat that would otherwise not have been there. Nearing the end of the meal, however, the fat was a major reason why I couldn't finish the ribs. I think they might be doing it for the visual appeal of massively sized ribs...I would still like them to be a quarter less fatty. There is literally a giant piece of meat/fat running along the top of where a baby-back normally ends.

                                                    And there were also some minor problems:

                                                    --Brisket was ho-hum. Decent smoke flavour. Way too dry. People have commented positively on the leanness...maybe they should offer it in different cuts.

                                                    --sides are not great. Baked beans were o.k. no longer undercooked. nice pieces of meat. not as good as phil's. Dirty rice was innocuous, if boring. The biscuit is dry...but comes w/ tasty gravy. (I have no experience of "real" sausage gravy though). The cornbread muffin wasn't too bad or good.

                                                    And there was some really good stuff:

                                                    --The pulled pork sandwhich is my favourite in Toronto. Or at least it was last night. Nice smoke flavour, not too dry (like Phil's), and the aforementioned flavourless slaw at least provided textural contrast in this role---vinegar would only improve things. All that and a great Thuet roll. What's not to like?

                                                    --The nuts they serve before you order are awesome. Just nuts, but really good nuts.

                                                    --The ribs totally have potential. Ours had a nice...if just a bit too subtle smoke flavour. And if they were a bit less fatty...and had a slightly better sauce. (Maybe the other sauces offered, e.g. an Asian one, would be better). They didn't fall off the bone--a property I normally associate with boil-b-que'd ribs--but there's no arguing over taste. In this city where you can count on one hand the # of places that actually smoke ribs, I don't think we can afford to lose hope in a place until they've settled down....which with menu changes, chef changes, etc...CGL obviously hasn't done yet.

                                                    And last but not least...what genius on their design team ordered the chairs with upholstered backs? What kind of barbecue place has that much fabric, just sitting around, waiting to get ruined? I was this close to wiping my hands on them in the throes of my sick meat-lust.

                                                    1. re: OnDaGo

                                                      The only good barbecue place I can recommend is Sweet Smoke in Woodbridge. Give that a try! I was impressed.

                                                      1. re: callitasicit

                                                        Went to CGL tonight and had a positive experience. Friends had already been and said to avoid the ribs but go for the sandwhiches. Both me and my partner are pretty picky about ribs so went with the sandwhiches. (Btw I used to live in Dallas a few years ago for work. Love BBQ but kept low expectations and just wanted some decent BBQesque food.)

                                                        I ordered a brisket sandwhich and it was really good. Good balance of tender beef and sauce that was far from dry. My partner got the pulled pork sandwhich which was the best of the two. It's served memphis style with slaw on it. Very good and best pulled pork I've had in a long time.

                                                        We split up our sides and ordered a couple of extras.

                                                        They had cornbread so I got that as a side. It was a little bland since I was expecting more of spicy cheddar flavour as described on the menu, but was very most.

                                                        The slaw was kind of bland. Was really good served on the pulled pork, but as a stand alone was pretty lame.

                                                        The beans were really good! Tender and had a good mix of meat and molasses sweetness. Also baked just a bit to make the edge sort of frim around the bowl.

                                                        We also finished completed the starch festival by splitting a mac and cheese. This was really good and baked with crispy top and crusty edge. I'm a bowl scraper when it comes to stuff like this! There was just a hint of sausage but really added to the flavour.

                                                        We both really liked our meals and would gladly return Went in with low expectations and it easily exceeded them. Possibly it's an inconsistant place and we caught it on a good night, or hopefully they're clearing up the issues that others had here on earlier visits. It seemed ot be on par with my experiences at Phil's but the pulled pork was the winner here that put it over the top.

                                                        Service was fast and friendly. We were going to an event at the Bloor Cinema and got in and out in about 45 minutes. The meal was about $65 including two glasses of wine. We were too full to get into the desserts.

                                                        Also just a note on the portion sizes. The coleslaw was a tiny, probably cup sized portion, but it wasn't that good so didn't care anyway. The beans were a good size and plenty for two to split. The mac and cheese was kind of a medium sized portion but was super heavy. So not sure we would have wanted more than that. So probably best split as an expensive side rather than making a meal of it.

                                                        1. re: abigllama

                                                          Actually your experience sounds pretty consistent with the board. Great pulled pork and poor-to-good everything else.

                                                        2. re: callitasicit

                                                          I work in da 'bridge....where is Sweet Smoke?

                                                        3. re: mstacey42

                                                          Where is Sweet Smoke located in Woodbridge?

                                                    2. Well I went to CG&L tonight for the first time. I had the Lincoln, the sampling platter, with the corn and the coleslaw, my wife had the beef ribs with beans and biscuit and sausage gravy. I have to say, I was very impressed. I really liked the brisket and the beef ribs. the lamb ribs left a little to be desired. The dry rub ribs were great.

                                                      At any rate - lots of bad reviewed here, but both my wife and I loved it, dinner for 2, 3 glasses of wine and 2 pints of beer being $90 with tax and tip... pretty damn good value and meal in my mind.

                                                      I would go back.... if less of you like it, all the better for me, shorter lines.

                                                      Having frequented many rib fests and travelled extensively in the south, I would say this is aytentic and good.

                                                      BBQ, however, is like fine wine. Everyone has their own taste, and not everyone will be happy with the same flavours....

                                                      1. review today in Metro

                                                        http://www.metronews.ca/story.aspx?id...

                                                        1. Went there on the Saturday nite, the service were very bad , waitress were rude and the food were warm/cold ( esp the ribs ).

                                                          15 Replies
                                                          1. re: MaggieY

                                                            Did anyone see Joanne Kates' review in the Globe yesterday? She seemed to really like Cluck, Grunt and Low. Is it a Thuet loyalty thing?

                                                            1. re: sherry f

                                                              Notice, she didn't rib on the service (good or bad) or the ambiance of the room or the wait times for food which she often tends to do. She glosses over the things that wre overcooked, though she ends up saying most things were. okay, the headline makes it look a lot more glowing than it is. Still, seems like she's missing something...

                                                              1. re: LemonLauren

                                                                Maybe she just liked the food. I really enjoyed my meal there... sure the service wasn't Splendido, but it"s barbeque. Nobody was rude to me and the food was tasty. This is not supposed to be a high end restaurant with fancy decor, just a place to eat meat. Alot has changed there with Boemer gone from the scene. I'll definately return.

                                                                1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                  Good to hear. I'm up for giving it another try. I'll let you know how it goes.

                                                                  1. re: Aardvark

                                                                    I had a great meal there last Saturday.

                                                                    And the service was superb.

                                                                    1. re: Non Doctor

                                                                      What did you order that was great - I am getting ready to give the place another try?

                                                                      BTW - always had friendly, helpful servers.

                                                                  2. re: OnDaGo

                                                                    Is the Southern Pride smoker on site or located elsewhere?

                                                                    1. re: Googs

                                                                      It's at Atelier Thuet, out back in the laneway. It's one of those portable jobbies that look like a little trailer.

                                                                      1. re: Googs

                                                                        Yeah, your living with a dream world if you think someone's whipping up lasagna between the time you order and the time you eat

                                                                        1. re: Ender

                                                                          In the old days, one would order in an Italian restaurant and know you're to wait roughly 45min-1hr after ordering before the main would arrive. I don't now order lasagna in restaurants. Is there really a place cooks it elsewhere and then ships it in?

                                                                          1. re: Googs

                                                                            Food gets pre-cooked there on the premises usually. It saves a great deal of time and gets people in and out quickly.

                                                                            I've got a friend who works in a kitchen. That chicken breast on the menu? Chances are that it's almost entirely cooked beforehand and then finished off on order. Really.

                                                                            1. re: lister

                                                                              Of course things are pre-made/prepared, they generally have to be, but surely there is a difference between pre-searing a piece of chicken or fish and then finishing it in the oven when the order is up and making it off premesis, packing and travelling it in...maybe just something to do with the care of the person cooking it from start to finish, although that isn't even always the case in a pro-kitchen, but it does seem to make sense...my 2 cents

                                                                      2. re: Googs

                                                                        Could somone who objects to the smoker not being on site please tell me why? Since the ribs are slow cooked presumably they'd be prepared in advance anyway. Does transporting them affect the taste? or is this a more ineffable hankering for authenticity?

                                                                        1. re: oralfixation

                                                                          Meats served fresh from the pit, assuming they were cooked well, are often more succulent than anything reheated. It's not about the smoker being on the premises. If they smoke on the premises and serve it reheated hours later, there wouldn't be any difference.

                                                                          That said, there's a widely held belief, with some evidence to back it up, that putting smoked food into a sealed bag for a while before serving improves it substantially.

                                                                          An on premise smoker can also add wonderful smells that you wouldn't get otherwise.

                                                                          1. re: embee

                                                                            If anyone thinks that you can go to any BBQ house and get meat right out of the smoker you must be smoking more than meat.

                                                                            It takes HOURS AND HOURS to smoke meat. Even the best Southern bbq joints smoke the meats then hold them one way or another. When food takes 8 hours or more to cook it ain't gonna go from the fire to the plate!

                                                              2. Surprisingly, I returned. Was in the area last night (Monday) so decided to give it another shot.
                                                                My previous review (somewhere above) found the place a disaster.
                                                                Can report that this time there was a significant improvement - but those of us that appreciate BBQ still will feel that it still has a way to go before being taken seriously.
                                                                The major improvement has been in the quality of the meat itself. Had the pulled pork, Kansas City, and memphis ribs. In all 3 plates the meat was moist (totally dried out on previous visit). Still some fatty bits - but acceptable. And yes, even some pink colour (previously grey). The biscuit was also very good, but all of the other sides still have a way to go. Admittedly, again, most showed an improvement from the prior visit - except the beans, which were barely warm this time, and lacked the bite of the previous visit (where they were the only aceptable side).
                                                                The sauces on the table have now disappeared. It comes pre-sauced. Some tables did get the buckets for the bones; some didn't (including us). Some tables did get finger bowls; some didn't (including us). Continuing the previous experience, not all the draft beer selections were actually available. So service is still an issue.
                                                                The other issue is 'taste'. The meat itself was pretty bland - although the consistency and texture are MUCH better, there doesn't seem to be much taste. A hint of smokiness (cheers!) but the blandest pork I've had in several months.
                                                                Total bill (everything) around $65 for 2. At that price I would probably drop by again, if I happened to be right there. However, if I get into the car I'd rather visit the Universal Grill for an extra $20 - even though their ribs don't seem to be smoked, I always leave satisfied.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: estufarian

                                                                  I love the dry ribs at Universal Grill.

                                                                  I'm still going to wait a couple more months before trying CG&L. No need to rush there given the mixed reviews. And if they close down before I get there to try it, well, there's the answer.

                                                                  1. re: acd123

                                                                    I'm addicted! My last half-dozen times at UG I've ordered the dry ribs!
                                                                    Beats any BBQ ribs I've had in Toronto by a Southern Mile.
                                                                    Incidentally my favourite BBQ style is 'New Mexico' - also pretty spicy.

                                                                    1. re: estufarian

                                                                      I used to be a big fan of the ribs at UG but the last time I was there, they were so salty that they were barely edible.

                                                                2. Just adding a Place link back to this thread.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Cluck Grunt & Low
                                                                  362 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S1X2, CA

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                    Finally made it here tonight. I kept waiting and waiting hoping they would get it right.
                                                                    Well, the three of us had a better than good experience.
                                                                    We arrived early, it wasn't too busy and the service was friendly and efficient.
                                                                    We had dry ribs, memphis ribs and pulled pork sandwich with a variety of sides.
                                                                    The ribs were pleasing: meaty, well smoked, full-flavored. The dry could have used a LOT more spice, but I'm one of those people who thinks Universal Grill really rings the bell.
                                                                    Collards and beans were very good, coleslaw and cornbread adequate. Pulled pork sandwich good, but not great. We'd go back again to try more of the menu.
                                                                    Bottom line: neither the disaster some hounds have experienced, nor the BBQ nirvana we've all been dreaming of.

                                                                    1. re: rsvp7777

                                                                      Okay, I guess I'll give it a try now. I've been waiting too. It's always good to try something new but every time I feel like dry ribs, Universal Grill is too good to resist.

                                                                      1. re: rsvp7777

                                                                        I was going to bring back the CGLR thread too as we ate there this evening at 7.

                                                                        After a long patient wait this was my first time back in months.

                                                                        For a Thursday night, along this stretch of Bloor, the place was noticably empty. We were seated in seconds.

                                                                        We both ordered a Caesar Salad along with two a la carte options to share; Smoked Buttermilk Fried Wings and Suckling Pork.

                                                                        Unfortunately it all arrived at exactly the same time by 2 servers as if it was an act of perfection. 2 properly chilled salads and 2 piping hot dishes. We gobbled up our salads as quickly as we could.

                                                                        Sadly, about a quarter of my romaine was rusty red. The bacon was excellent; very smoky with all the fat rendered out. The generous amount of parmesean slices were top quality. Two tiny boring croutons and a very weak dressing that lacked anything that would make it caesar. No lemon, anchovy or garlic to speak of.

                                                                        The wings were excellent. Decent size, juicy, nice crispy batter and a rich smoked flavour. This was a surprising combination and it worked well with the ranch dip. We were surprised how fresh and juicy the wings were given that they were clearly smoked prior to being breaded and fried.

                                                                        For the pork we chose wet over dry. It was a very generous portion that incuded a rib bone but only a drizzle of sauce. As our waitress never returned, we asked the busboy for more sauce. We had to remind him when we saw him wiping down the table next to us that we were waiting on sauce. He quickly brought us a small bowl of room temp. sauce along with his sincere apologies. Wish it had been heated. We dumped the very tasty and complex sauce over the pork with hopes that the pork would stay warm enough to enjoy. The pork was dense and lightly smoked. Although it needed to be more moist to be succulent, there was not a dry or tough piece to be found. Very enjoyable indeed. Based on my previous visits, this meal far exceded my expectations.

                                                                        The people next to us ordered the platter and couldn't stop eating. It looked great and that is what I will return for.

                                                                        The waitress eventually returned and asked if everything was OK.

                                                                        1. re: deelicious

                                                                          CG&L seems unable to deal with the simple concept of takeout. Twice (twice in a row, actually), they gave me the wrong order after phoning it in. Most recently, when I asked for one order of dry ribs and one order of sticky ribs, I came home to find both orders dry. They seem to not get the English language thing too well - how hard can it be to actually listen to your customers, read the order back if necessary, and get it right? Also, their website has the old menu - who exactly is running the place?

                                                                          1. re: Enough

                                                                            How were the ribs?

                                                                            1. re: deelicious

                                                                              The person who actually wanted their ribs dry (me) found them adequate. The person who asked for sticky ribs was disappointed, of course. The one time before that I phoned in for take-out, they screwed up that order too. I think they don't care enough to actually ...listen!

                                                                    2. So I went to CGL last night for the very first time.

                                                                      I'll admit, I'm quite the barbecue snob. I'm the guy who will always point out the differences between 'grilling' and 'cuing' and I've tried many a ribs from Mississippi, bounds of brisket from Texas and good ol pulled pork sammies from the Carolinas. I've taken what was my childhood love of southern food (my paw's family is from Flordia) and manifested it into an obsesession. I'm that guy who built his own smoker and politely smiles at neighbors - beer in hand - while they waft the smoke ladden air in futility.

                                                                      I learnt to smoke brisket from a coworker of mine who's a Texan transplant and who took doing brisket the "right way" very seriously. The code of Mr. Crutchfield was simple: 1/4" of fat, good marbling, ALWAYS dry rub and NEVER wet mop, and nothing less than a two-four on a Sunday smoke out.

                                                                      So i'll come clean....I'm a barbecue snob that has very high standards of what good cue is supposed to taste like. And I fully realize that barbecue in Toronto, for obvious reasons, isn't going to be as good as anything from the south.

                                                                      So with that said, I think CGL is mediocre. But for Toronto, where real cue is slim pickings, its above average. I really appreciate that CGL is exposing us to real a "real" barbecue experience. And while they don't pull it off as nearly as good as I think they should, the vision and the effort is commendable. As for the food?

                                                                      Memphis ribs were tasty, but as many have chirped, they tend to be dry once you work your way down to the tip. I had a whole slab and by time i made my way to the tip, it felt like i was chewing on jerky. Jaws were really tired.

                                                                      The brisket just doesn't measure up to how brisket is supposed to be. It tasted more like roast beef smothered in bbq sauce. I like my brisket to have texture; charred crackling on the outside and fall-off-the-ligament tenderness on the inside.

                                                                      They really need to up the ante on the baked beans as well. C'mon guys, lets get some pork bits in there. Lets get a little smokey flavor in there. The beans almost seem like they were bought at the Dominions across the street.

                                                                      But I'm not going to pull judge and jury yet. I think i need to try the other menu mains (pulled pork, suckling pig, KC ribs, etc) before I can fairly assess if it stands up to my snobish standards.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: goodcookiedrift

                                                                        I wish you lived next door to me GCD. I think I love you.

                                                                      2. Last night I finally checked it out, I haven't had that much to compare it too but my benchmark is Camp 31 which is uparalleled still...Overall I found CGL to be fairly good, I was there with my 3 yr old son...the place did smell like sweet smoke inside and for about 50ft all around outside, service was attentive and they even comped my son a cranberry juice since when he chose it I tried to request apple but he insisted, she said if he didn't like it it wasn't a problem...he did like it but she left it off the bill anyway, nice...we had the sweet pork ribs (not too hungry so I just got a half rack), they weren't dry as some have said, I thought quite flavourful and moist, I liked the CGL sauce and they had a dark chary bark, my son had a small mac & cheese, not bad, it is what it is although he quit eating it in favour of about 1/3 of my ribs!..but the small ramekin for $7 is rediculous, makes up for the juice deal I guess...my sides, were small but 2 choices came with the ribs, I had the beans - not quite canned but not much better, and the cole slaw - sadly pretty flavourless, I would prefer a vinegary version instead...with a pint & taxes, before tip, it was $32, I thought it was a bit much, especially since I kinda like eating ribs & bbq out doors rather than pay for their interior, like at large events where there is lots of (rib) selection a fun atmosphere and is much cheaper...there are a few other items I'd like to try at CGL but I think I'll reserve it for when I NEED a fix, won't be a regular joint for me...side note: the place was full the whole time we were there and I actually heard people saying how much they were enjoying their food...I could see this place getting better as it has been doing and becoming quite good...

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Recyclor

                                                                          Went today for lunch. It was Friday at 12:30 and we were the only two people in the place for our entire meal.

                                                                          I had the pulled pork sandwich with a biscuit on the side. I know I don't care for the CGL beans and the cole slaw so the biscuit was worth a try. My buddy ordered beef ribs with cornbread and cole slaw.

                                                                          My bun was so crumbly stale and dry that I ended up just eating the meat. The meat itself was boring and not nearly as good as on a previous visit. It was such a lousy sandwich. Believe it or not the biscuit is worse than their corn bread. It was a re-heated, dried-out and tasteless brick. To make it even worse, it wasn't even heated through. The cornbread is still a re-heated tasteless item as it always has been. The cole slaw is also still tasteless. I think the slogan in the kitchen is "Shred it and Forget it!" My buddy's beef ribs were nicely smoked and quite good. I just wish they would trim the fat from them. Nobody wants that much fat and it just makes the whole thing far too rich. Beef ribs are marbled enough without retaining huge chunks like that!

                                                                          All in all I am bothered that a Thuet restaurant serves a stale bun, and re-heated biscuits and cornbread. There is no excuse for not making fresh biscuits and cornbread in the restaurant when he is so skilled at such items. They just don't care what they serve to their clientelle at CGL. A side order of them are 3 or 4 bucks - I would refuse to pay.

                                                                          I won't be back for a very, very long time and expect to find them closed down when I am ready.

                                                                        2. Tried this place last night. My experience was similar to many others.

                                                                          I enjoyed the pulled pork in my sandwich. The entirety of my experience with pulled pork consists of eating at the House on Parliament and Black Camel, so take that for what it's worth. I do, however, have much more experience in the consumption of buns and I can tell you that the bun my sandwich was served on was reminiscent of Wonder Bread and quite tasteless.

                                                                          Beans, as another poster said, were "not quite canned." The collard greens were tasty. The biscuit was flaky and buttery and quite good. We ordered it with sausage gravy. I'd never eaten this before and it tasted like a tepid milky sauce. There was no savoury meaty flavour that one would expect from a gravy. If that is how sausage gravy is supposed to taste I can live without it.

                                                                          We had sweet potato pie for dessert. The vanilla ice cream was delicious. Nice and creamy with a nice vanilla flavour with visible specks of bean. I also enjoyed the sweet potato filling. The crust was made with lard. I usually enjoy this and generally make my own pie crusts with a mixture of lard and butter. However the lard used in this crust tasted overwhelmingly of bacon (I actually suspect it was made with bacon drippings). I do love bacon but that took it a little too far for me.

                                                                          All in all, I would rate it a resounding "OK," but I can see its potential.

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: basileater

                                                                            Just as an FYI, traditional southern pulled pork sandwiches are usually served on Wonderbread-esque dinner rolls. I personally like that touch and i think that i would be bummed if my sammy came on artisan bread or ciabatta. Pulled pork sammie's aren't meant to be fussy. That said, i would be really really bummed if they served it straight up on two slices of Wonderbread slices.

                                                                            1. re: goodcookiedrift

                                                                              I like that touch as well. If you go to a decent BBQ place in Texas it's usually generic brand hamburger buns. It's not about the bread but the meat and the sauce.

                                                                            2. re: basileater

                                                                              Yeah, I can second this. I was born and raised in the southeast US, and I once heard it put this way, "Find the cheapest, whitest, hamburger bun you can find..."

                                                                              If the meat is well-smoked, and the sauce is right, be it NC-style, SC-style, or tomato-based, a good BBQ sandwich should never be about the bun. The Wonder Bread comment has actually renewed my interest in trying this place.

                                                                              1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                Ah interesting! That's good to know (although I'm still not convinced I like it that way!)

                                                                                1. re: basileater

                                                                                  Hey...just like people have a right to enjoy North Americanized Chinese food, you have a right to like a BBQ sandwich that's not entirely authentic. :) However, from the sounds of things, I'd say that this one nod to authenticity probably doesn't make up for all of the other things that seem to be lacking...

                                                                                2. re: Wahooty

                                                                                  after doing a back to back tasting of black camel to cgl... there is no way i would ever call what they're using at cgl as wonderbread.

                                                                                  it was eggy, denser and much fuller in flavour than the plain white bread bun that black camel was using. i first thought i wanted a more flavourful bun but it's all wrong and completely overshadows the meat.

                                                                                  that being said... the coleslaw slapped on top of the pork was probably in equal portion to the meat and made it unnecessarily vinegary. the coleslaw was awful. the smoke was just barely present... even between the two i'd rather just stick to the stuff i've got in my freezer which is deliciously smoky and tender with a fantastic peach based bbq sauce. the only redeeming part of my meal at cgl was the potato salad (although a couple undercooked spuds made their presence known) and the thuet beer brewed by mcauslan (totally the wrong type of beer for bbq though).

                                                                              2. I have been trying to convince my friend to go there since he lives close by. Him and his gf has always been put off by the price. With such inconsistent service, I'm thinking of just of going to St.Louis instead. I am really tired of Sushi on Bloor and New Gen Sushi too. I'm starting to hit my limit for Korea town next door as well. :(

                                                                                1. Heard a rumour today (not verified ---but isn't that the definition of a rumour) that Marc Thuet will no longer be doing the smoking for CLG. Anyone have any more reliable info??

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: ishmael

                                                                                    Hi ishmael, you are right it's true, I spoke to a reliable source about it, they will not be doing any food for them anymore, due to logistical problems ie: the distance between the Atellier kitchen and CGL, Marc might have a hand in it still but I guess it would be as a consultant or something...

                                                                                    1. re: ishmael

                                                                                      I know that the smoker has been gone from the back of Marc's place for a few days now. Also, they are opening a new location of CG&L on Bayview ave, in Leaside. Great...........

                                                                                      1. re: City_West

                                                                                        WOW! Really? They're going to do the wrong thing twice??? Now that's a great business plan.

                                                                                        1. re: Googs

                                                                                          ...I need to figure out how to afford to do that....

                                                                                          1. re: Googs

                                                                                            From what I've seen it's regularly packed... so how is that doing the wrong thing twice?? They probably need to open a place so they can prepare the food on site, as Thuet already has 2 packed businesses downtown. I'd rather have a meal at CGL than Duffs on Bayview!

                                                                                          2. re: City_West

                                                                                            Uh oh, and I was actually going to try this place for myself tonight. Anyone have an idea just where they're doing the smoking, then?

                                                                                        2. Don't think I'll be heading to any restaurant associated with Thuet anytime soon. Just too many bad reviews, bad food, bad service. Too bad.

                                                                                          1. FInally had supper at CGL a couple of Sunday nights ago. Went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised to be rewarded with delicious, REALLY smoky Kansas sticky ribs and good collard greens. Good and quick service, great atmosphere which reminded me of other barbecue joints down south. I will return. I wouldn't order the beans again, though, nor the outrageously-priced $5 Thuet lemonade (in a mason jar, of course).

                                                                                            My only peeve/curiosity was the manager-looking youngish guy who wandered aimlessly, did nothing behind the bar, and went outside for a smoke at regular intervals.

                                                                                            1. good ribs
                                                                                              mis-managed
                                                                                              good brisket
                                                                                              highly unorganized
                                                                                              good chicken
                                                                                              hour and 45 wait
                                                                                              they comped us a lot which means i will return
                                                                                              if only they could get it together

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: marktheshark

                                                                                                Went there recently too...so I guess I will also pile on...experienced most of the same problems as everyone else...

                                                                                                One interesting note is that I ate at the bar and overheard the bartender talking about the reviews from chowhound.com to some other servers and diners...when she spoke about it she rolled her eyes a lot and suggested that "these losers should find other things to do with their time"

                                                                                                Kind of sums things up...

                                                                                                1. re: BloorWestie...

                                                                                                  Yeah... what do customers who care know?

                                                                                              2. Not so brief update.
                                                                                                Both my previous visits were described above - not particularly favourably.
                                                                                                Monday night I was stranded at Bloor/Spadina and it was raining - and my first choice place had lineups out the door (and I had 50 minutes left on my parking meter). So, I ventured into CGL again.
                                                                                                The menu has changed again - somewhat shorter now. the 'Blackboard Specials' were all repeats of items on the menu. Even worse, more than half of the blackboard items weren't on the menu on Monday (no pulled pork, no pulled chicken, no dry rub chicken - and these items form the basis for several dishes). Also no lager on the menu.
                                                                                                HOWEVER, even though only about half the menu items were available, the quality delivered was SIGNIFICANTLY better than both previous visits. The Kansas City pork ribs were smoky, flavourful, tender and tasty. Fortunately they weren't Kansas City style as advertised (sweet & sticky) - but they had more acidity (think KC crossed with Carolina) and weren't sticky. But they did taste far better than the previous version (which was the only item I finished on my last visit). The biscuit was a little dense - but really good flavour (last time dried out completely); and the beans were definitely improved. If you're wondering why I would re-order dishes that I was not happy with previously, re-read the earlier reviews - many other things were totally inedible - the dirty rice being my nomination for worst thing to attempt to pass my lips this year.
                                                                                                Because I only ordered a half slab of ribs (once bitten - or rather chewed extensively) I did try a dessert. Mama Thuets apple pie didn't resemble the apple pies(really tarts) in Alsace. Burned crust, too sweet, and chunks (rather than slices) of apple. Competent ice-cream.
                                                                                                Still, if it's raining/snowing on a Monday evening (I have a regular appointment near Bloor/Spadina), I would consider returning. The food has improved.
                                                                                                But I still had to fight my way past smokers standing outside (customers not staff).
                                                                                                And I don't "get" the sign on each door that says "Use Other Door". Why would any place want me to feel stupid before entering? Guess I don't have a sense of humour.

                                                                                                1. The fancy logo and too-cute name always seemed chain-like, and now it turns out that CG&L #2 is opening soon on Bayview -- or so says the menu at CG&L #1.

                                                                                                  My first visit will likely remain my last. I'm no expert on barbeque -- to me, Kansas City vs. Carolina is a bad NFL game -- but I found my K.C. ribs dry, dull and oversauced. Same with my wife's brisket: cut too thick, with a leathery texture, drenched in sauce. Sides? Biscuit and collard greens were OK, cole slaw had no bite, Brunswick stew was watery and tasteless.
                                                                                                  Next time I want BBQ pork, I'm going back to Kom Jug Yuen. It may not be the best Chinese BBQ, but at one third the price of CG&L, you get a lot more taste.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: estragon

                                                                                                    It can't be said often enough. CGL is not worth visiting. More times than not it is a huge disappointment. Waste of a meal, waste of money. Once in a while one or two items are great, but never a whole meal.

                                                                                                    It just shows how starved we are for good bbq that people will go back to this second rate restaurant.

                                                                                                    1. re: deelicious

                                                                                                      Waste of a meal, waste of money -- funny, that's precisely what we said to each other after we left.

                                                                                                  2. A new location is going to open at 1620 Bayview Avenue. I was trolling the want ads on Craigslist and noticed a call for staff.

                                                                                                    1. We just ate there for the first time about a week ago. I thought the meat dishes were quite good, but the sides were mediocre. The real problem came when I ordered the Banana cream pie for dessert, and while eating it, found a one inch long plastic shard embedded in the pie, which found its way into my mouth. Not happy about that at all. Also, the worst biscuit I've ever eaten in my life. That was a disappointment.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Molloy

                                                                                                        You think the biscuit is the worst in the world....try the corn bread!!! Hopefully you will get an old, half-heated piece like I did. There is no resto in Toronto that makes me more angry than this place. So much potential, chef power delivering some of the worst "who cares about the consumer' food in Toronto.

                                                                                                      2. I am definitely not a barbecue connoisseur, so the fact that I've enjoyed the food both times I've been to CG&L is just a matter of personal taste. The service, however, has both times been awful. Waited forever before a server actually bothered to even acknowledge us or take a drink order. The first time the server was rather curt, to boot. Slow, slow, slow. And meanwhile, there's a hostess looking bored by the door, rolling her eyes and wandering back and forth, and a dedicated bartender pouring drinks at a rate of roughly one every 5 minutes. Frustrating to watch while waiting in vain for service.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: watt

                                                                                                          Have to agree. organic meat and sauce is a gr8 idea. food was good (sides SUCKED...have lived in the US and that cornbread is worse than from the box)..sauce was unexpected but quite enjoyed it. we did the sampler platter with beef,pork ribs,pulled pork and lamb(which i got subbed for something else)..altho my partner who likes lamb says it was good...service was pretty horrendous. our waiter disapeared until we needed our bill... i like the atmosphere tho. loud and raucous like a saloon. but we're youngish...lol. anyways. meat was great when we were there, but i have read all the bad revies. not trying to plug it, but i do like the concept. and i have eaten at some great bbq/soul food places in NYC and SF and can say while it's not the same, it is good.

                                                                                                        2. Even the almost universally dissed Eglinton Dipamo's was much better than this place. My homemade BBQ is better than this place. I have wonderful cornbread and bean recipes that can be made by a non-cook and never fail. Phil's is a poor shadow of its former self, but is better than this. This joint has no valid reason to exist, save local desperation for SOMETHING. They'll probably make a fortune.